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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

necessity, and say: " There, but for the grace of God,
go I".

Fifthly, since moral indignation corrupts the ageat
who possesses it and is not calculated to reform the man
who is the object of it, the demand for it—in the poli-
tician and in the historian for example—is really a
demand for an illegitimate form of power. The attach-
ment to it is based on its efficacy as a tactical weapon,
its ability to rouse irrational fervour and extraordinary
malevolence against some enemy. As in such cases its
efficacy is not lessened even when it is used unfairly and
unscrupulously against those who have done no great
harm, the argument for the use of this weapon is valid
also for the unscrupulous use of it. The passage from
the one to the other is indeed one of the most regular
conjuring-tricks in the world.

Finally—so far as these statements of principle are
concerned—I should say that, though I assume there are
limits, I do not know where to place the limits to the
operation of the truth that we condemn where we do not
understand. This is tantamount to the assertion that
the kind of ethical judgments which historians like Lord
Acton have been so anxious to achieve are possible only
to God.

All these principles are ultimately referable to the good
old-fashioned doctrine that in the created world nothing
really matters except live human beings. They would
be inconsistent with anything like a Nazi view of human
beings or the State or the Volk. They could not survive
in a world that believed a society or corporation to
represent the genuine whole, the authentic Person, with

no